Cross Pointe Church

Address

1800 Satellite Boulevard
Duluth, GA 30097

More Info

Service Times

Sunday 9:15 AM

Sunday 11:00 AM

Contact

678-812-4500

Rejoice

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"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”  Philippians 4:4

What does it mean to “rejoice in the Lord?”  This is one of those “Christian” phrases that we have been using and singing for so long, I wonder if we have even stopped to ponder what it means.  It must be important because Paul took the time to repeat it in his letter to the believers in Philippi.  “Again I will say it,” he wrote.  Perhaps the key to understanding the true meaning of joy is not found primarily in the word, “rejoice,” but in “always.”    

There is a great expression of rejoicing in God always found in Habakkuk 3:17-18.  It says:  “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be one the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”  In other words, when all the earthly sources of my happiness are gone, God will be my delight… my joy… my everything.  When there is no visible reason, I will rejoice in God because He is better than life itself.

In both the Old and New testaments we are commanded to rejoice or delight in God.  “Delight yourself in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4).  “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4).  The psalmist speak repeatedly of the joy they have found in God.  “I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy” (Psalm 43:4).  “Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad” (Psalm 35:27).  “Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in Him” (Psalm 111:2).  “You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). 

Just to be clear, none of us can say these words truthfully apart from God’s amazing grace.  This deep, abiding joy is the fruit of His Spirit.  It is the supernatural result of His work in our lives.  We cannot muster up this kind of rejoicing.  And if we try to, we will end up feeling discouraged and defeated.  So if we can’t do it, why does God command it? 

Perhaps the command is intended to humble us, and to make us desperate for true Christianity.  In his book, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy, John Piper writes, “Preferring anything above Christ is the very essence of sin.”  If this is true, then God’s command to rejoice in Him above all else defines true conversion.  The way one behaves is manageable without Christ.  But our emotions, the way we feel and what we desire most, that is the barometer of the heart.  Nothing will reveal the true condition of our hearts better than the demand to rejoice in the Lord above all else always. 

Prayer: Dear Father, Please create in me both a hunger for and delight in all that You are.  Show me what it means to rejoice in You alone.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

in Faith

Obedience

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“We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands.”  1 John 2:3

Obedience yields assurance, according to the Apostle John.  How can a person know he has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?  Obedience--it is the sign of a converted heart.  It is the signature of the Holy Spirit living inside.  An obedient life is the outward fruit of a peaceful heart – a heart that is eternally secure.

Please don’t misunderstand… John didn’t write, “We know that we have come to know Him because we obey His commands.”  Obedience does not produce salvation.  It is, however, evidence of salvation.  Remember, this passage in 1 John is dealing with assurance of salvation, not the theology of salvation.  John is addressing those who believe in Christ, or at least profess a belief in Him. 

Why does God hold up obedience to His Word as the way for someone to be sure he is truly saved?  After all, Christians have been set free from the law, haven’t they?  Why, then, the emphasis on obedience?  John isn’t merely emphasizing obedience, but the desire to obey.  A heart that is fully surrendered to Christ and thus inhabited by the Holy Spirit will be radically different from an unconverted heart.  The new heart desires Christ and His will; and the presence of the Holy Spirit moves a believer to obey (Ezekiel 36:27).  And while Christians will still struggle (because sanctification is a process), the Holy Spirit is there to remind, guide, teach and correct.    

The connection of obedience and assurance serves as a warning, as well.  It reminds those who profess faith, yet have no evidence of a changed heart, to examine themselves.  The Apostle John had a clear concern, as does God, for those who profess Christ yet don’t follow Him.  We should be equally concerned.  There is no biblical basis for such a faith. 

The bottom line is this:  salvation is a personal relationship with the living Lord Jesus Christ.  The fruit of this relationship is obedience.  Why?  Because it is only through His strength and presence in our lives that we can consistently obey and follow Him.  It is only because of His gracious intervention (while we were dead in our sins) that we want to follow Him.  When we see ourselves growing and changing – obeying and yielding in areas where we formerly didn’t – we know it is Him at work in us.  And there is no better feeling than that!

Prayer: Father, I am grateful that You are the One who changes me.  You have given me a new heart--one that desires to know You more and obey Your Word.  Please help me to trust You in all areas of my life.  If there is anything that I am holding back from You, please reveal it to me and give me Your strength to surrender it to You.  Thank You for loving and saving me.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Choose

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“Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions?  If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’  But the people said nothing.”  1 Kings 18:21

Lukewarm.  Wishy-washy.  Straddling the fence.  Trying to have your cake and eat it, too.  These are all just creative ways of describing the same type of person: Someone who cannot make up his mind.  This perfectly describes the culture that the Prophet Elijah was living in.  They could not make up their minds about the most important decision they would ever face… what they believed about God.

After prophesying and praying and trying to lead them for some time, Elijah has had enough.  So he issues somewhat of an ultimatum.  To paraphrase, “Just make up your minds already!”  The choice is simple… maybe not easy, but definitely simple.  If Jehovah is the One True God, follow Him.  If Baal is, then follow him – but you can’t follow both.

How many people today are trying to follow both God and something else?  How many are wavering between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of self?  We are living in a culture of relativism and self-importance.  The world is begging us to believe that there is no truth, no reason to deny self, and no reason to choose a side.  But Jesus says, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).  He also says, “Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am about to spit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16).

Scripture is clear.  The choice is the same today as it was in the days of Elijah.  If Jesus is Lord, then follow Him. 

Prayer: Father, I confess my faith in Jesus, Your Son, and submit today to His lordship over me.  Give me the strength to glorify Him today.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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